Addressing Minister of Family Services Johnny Mike, Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak said four Baker Lake residents attending post-secondary education in Ontario almost didn’t get to go because of troubles accessing the Financial Assistance for Nunavut Students (FANS) program.
“I am grateful that the staff at the FANS office were able to make it happen in time,” said Mikkungwak, before asking if the division is struggling to keep up with the growing demands for student support.
Mike acknowledged demand is increasing and that there are challenges.
“There are different funding assistance funds that have different dates for providing the funding, some of which are last-minute and can cause delays,” he said.
While Mikkungwak said the increasing number of high school graduates seeking to pursue post-secondary education is a good thing, he noted MLAs are constantly hearing from students of the great difficulties in accessing the FANS office.
“Sometimes the lack of response and support even jeopardizes their opportunity to go on to higher education. Is the minister aware that there are ongoing problems with the administration of the
FANS program and, if so, what is currently being done to address those problems and fix
them?” he asked.
Mike replied that there is a list of 34 institutions recognized by the GN, which can cause some difficulties if the student’s choice is not on the list. But he noted the greatest difficulty is incomplete applications, or late applications. Problems also occur with rules at the college or university.
Mikkungwak suggested the responsibility for FANS might be better located with the Department of Education, and should be a consideration of the new government.
“It’ll be up to the new government,” said Mike.
Scholarship supports doctor-in-the-making
Rankin Inlet’s Art Sateana is the 2017 post-secondary student receiving Qulliq Energy Corporation’s Laura Ulluriaq Gauthier Scholarship.
The scholarship pays tribute to Laura Ulluriaq Gauthier, who recognized the importance of a Nunavut-owned and operated utility, and celebrates her community work and giving spirit, explained Johnny Mike, the Minister responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corporation.
“Art is now entering his third year as a science student at the University of Manitoba. He is a determined youth whose ambition is to become a general physician and return to the territory to serve Nunavummiut,” said Mike.
“Uqaqtittijii, Art’s academic journey has been both admirable and inspirational. Despite the additional burden of taking extra classes to meet class prerequisites in conjunction with his university courses, Art has excelled and achieved an A-plus average.”
Sateana volunteers as a soccer and gymnastics coach in his community, and stated in his essay to the selection committee, “I grew up with an understanding of the value of serving others, and the positive impact it can have on the lives we touch.”
Is there a plan for freshwater sources?
MLA for Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu Pat Angnakak questioned Community and Government Services (CGS) Minister Joe Savikataaq on whether his department analyzes each community’s freshwater supply to ensure that it is sufficient to meet long-term demands.
Angnakak referenced media reports and a York University study saying some Nunavut communities, including Iqaluit, “may experience freshwater shortages within the next decade if preventative measures are not taken in the meantime.”
“I don’t think there’s an actual process that is followed for monitoring water consumption and the amount of water available to communities,” said Savikataaq.
“There are some concerns in some communities about water quantities, I guess is the word, the amount of water available and we monitor them and we come up with plans as needed.”
Angnakak then wanted to know if CGS and the City of Iqaluit have discussed specific plans to secure a long-term freshwater source for the city.
“The City of Iqaluit is responsible for the water delivery system and to make sure there’s enough water, but we do work with them and I know there have been some talks and there have been several suggestions, I believe, brought up as to where they there are water sources that can be used to replenish the natural reservoir that is used here in Iqaluit, but as for specifics of where the water would be drawn from my understanding is that decision has not been made yet.”
Savikataaq also said CGS works with communities and municipalities to update their sustainability plans.
How will old health centre be used?
Taloyoak’s new health centre opened two years ago and, since then, the old centre has sat empty.
“It would seem that these two departments (Community and Government Services and Health) have been playing ping-pong with the ownership of this building,” said Netsilik MLA Emiliano Qirngnuq.
“Nevertheless, I hope that the building will be put to good use. Can the minister tell me how his department will be using the old health centre building in Taloyoak?”
“I guess the ball is in my court now,” said Minister of Health George Hickes.
“When the new health centre in Taloyoak was built, we had started the process to surplus the building. It was recognized that there could be additional uses for the Department of Health, so we put a stop to the transfer or the surplussing of that building (to CGS).”
Hickes noted the process for the empty building included “accessing pre-planning dollars to be able to look at how exactly we could maximize the efficiency of health services in Taloyoak.”
But Hickes could not provide specifics.
“Whenever pre-planning dollars are allocated to a project such as a renovation to an existing structure, such as a health centre that has been replaced, we take a look at the structural integrity or the structural options that are available to us,” said Hickes, adding the topic would likely come up at the next budget cycle.